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Crawl

Since ‘Jaws’ stormed the cinema box office in 1975 dozens of imitators have surfaced. The ‘natural beast on the loose’ formula since has spawned its own genre. There are too many to mention with ‘Crawl’ the latest variant in an ever-expanding movie world. No less tense or implausible, ‘Crawl’ offers ghoulishly fun thrills proving that in films, it’s never safe to go into the water.

Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is an expert swimmer studying at a university in Florida. Estranged from her father Dave (Barry Pepper), she nevertheless checks in on him when a massive storm breaks. Discovering him in peril at home, Haley uses her skills to save him. She doesn’t count on Mother Nature’s relentless fury as well as a group of angry alligators ready to strike.

Alexandre Aja directs ‘Crawl’ with tongue very firmly in cheek. That’s just as well as it’s occasionally difficult to believe the dilemmas the characters face. It’s part of the charm of these films as you go along for the ride in wondering how they’ll survive the oncoming onslaught. If you can overcome the huge leaps of logic, ‘Crawl’ becomes a solid time-waster with decent scares and people to care for.

In what is essentially a two person cast, Scoderlario and Pepper give strong performances. Their roles conjure genuine believability with both giving it their all in what must have been a strenuous shoot. The CGI alligators and scenery are amazingly rendered and help move the brisk plot towards a tension packed finale.

‘Crawl’ may be derivative of ‘Jaws’ in places, including lifting some of its dialogue, but its stream-lined escapism is welcome. Filled with drama, thrills and a dash of ridiculousness, it’s a swift human vs nature battle. It may put you off going into the water like ‘Jaws’ with cinema’s fierce aquatic creatures always difficult to eradicate.

Rating out of 10: 7

Stuber

Buddy comedies heavily rely on chemistry. Whether it’s two or more in the cast, how they interact is crucial in making the comedic situations work. If they don’t the film can quickly fall apart no matter how good a story. ‘Stuber’s script may not be original or totally engaging, but the leads’ chemistry ensures it remains watchable until the last reel.

Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is having a boring day driving around ungrateful clients. When LAPD detective Victor (Dave Bautista) suddenly commandeers Stu’s car, all hell breaks loose. Determined to catch a notorious drug baron, Victor also has to deal with dodgy eye-sight as well as an irate Uber driver. Stu’s day goes from bad to worse with guns and explosions following him and Victor in a day he’d rather forget.

‘Stuber’ doesn’t always work with profane humor wrecking a few of its set-ups. Generally it’s entertaining though with Nanjiani and Bautista displaying that all important chemistry in spades. It’s easy going along with their partnership as both actors inject plenty of pathos and charisma into their characters. ‘Stuber’ isn’t perfect but its slightly low-brow aims are softened by Michael Dowse’s astute direction.

The action set pieces give ‘Stuber’ much heft. These plus the stunts are the other stars of the film and don’t disappoint. The screenplay is wafer-thin with a ‘seen it all before’ mentality occasionally surfacing. But the leads’ ability to play to their strengths go a long way in not making ‘Stuber’ an unwatchable mess.

‘Stuber’ can’t be taken too seriously with the comedy and action mixed reasonably well. It won’t change the world anytime soon but it isn’t a piece of celluloid junk either. Sort of like cinematic fast-food where you feel slightly guilty in watching it but having fun anyway.

Rating out of : 6